It was Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel who said, “Never Let A Good Crisis Go To Waste”. He meant use it to lock-in things that, “you did not think you could do before”. Socialists in Australia follow several strategies to prevent their political opponents undoing their work. These include
- signing environmental treaties like that the Kyoto Convention, which involves preventing the clearing of land to allow its cultivation;
- setting up default provisions for increased stringency on permitted greenhouse emissions;
- providing 15 years up-front subsidy payments for renewable energy investments;
- legislating far in advance and ordering material for the NBN roll-out;
- creating with forward funding useless agencies like those involved in carbon capture and storage, destructive policies like water buy-backs and sinecurial research grants to progress the government’s own agenda and feed its supporters
- providing 27 year contracts on white elephants like Victoria’s $5.7 billion desalination plant;
- as Samuel J has pointed out, ensuring 5 year contracts at exorbitant remuneration (albeit with one year salary payouts possible) for the political appointees heading Departments and other agencies
Leftists like Rahm Emanuel recognise that a ratchet is in place enabling them to climb new heights of intervention and control and hold them pending a further opportunity to ascend the next peak. Paying the costs of these excesses is never considered a problem.
Sanctity of contract is an essential feature of private enterprises dealing one with the other. It has also been important to ensure governments can be relied on not to welch on deals even though their monopoly on legal violence allows them to do so.
Drawing from Rothbard, John Cochrane suggests treating the two differently and argues for repudiation of debt. Rothbard writes, “[W]hen government borrows money, it does not pledge its own money; its own resources are not liable. Government commits not its own life, fortune, and sacred honor to repay the debt, but ours. This is a horse, and a transaction, of a very different color.” Cochrane goes on to argue,
Both parties [the politicians doing the borrowing and the members of the public loaning funds to the government] are immorally contracting to participate in the violation of the property rights of citizens in the future. Both parties, therefore, are making agreements about other people’s property, and both deserve the back of our hand. The public credit transaction is not a genuine contract that need be considered sacrosanct, any more than robbers parceling out their shares of loot in advance should be treated as some sort of sanctified contract.
I think that such reasoning opens up too many loopholes and, ethical questions aside, might result in very high transaction costs for government. It is however a different matter where future entitlements are concerned. These should not be regarded as fixed and any compensation (including for termination of office) that exceeds some norm (1-3 months salary) should be regarded as inappropriate.